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Best Burger in the ‘Burg

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image from Recently, The Patriot-News featured this article asking local foodies for their take on who has the best burger in the greater Harrisburg area.

I wanted to add my two cents – and wanted to hear from a few others – so I’ve compiled my own list. Perhaps we can just call this the “blogger’s edition.”

In my unofficial poll, Jackson House was the clear winner, with more unprompted mentions than anywhere else (even my restaurateurs own spots!). I do appreciate the novelty (and taste) of Jackson House. However, I’ve been there too many times where they run out of beef. And while that speaks to their popularity – which is incredible considering their limited lunch-only hours – my favorite place to get a burger in the Harrisburg area is Garrason’s Tavern.

There are about a bazillion choices on their menu, but the true standby is the Garrason’s Burger. A thick beef patty, topped with cheese, bacon and sauteed mushrooms, onions and green peppers. If I want to turn it down a notch, I grab the Andy Russell, which is just a delicious melody of mushrooms, onions and swiss cheese.

Read on to hear what local news anchors, bloggers and restaurateurs say is tops.

image from Jersey Mike, Greenbelt Events (and oh so much more):

“Local: Jackson House. Just an all-around killer burger. Chain: Five Guys. Simple, hearty, big. Runner up: ABC does make a pretty consistent burger.”


image from Dennis Owens, ABC 27 News:

“No question, the greatest burger in the area is Jackson House hamburgers. It’s a dive of a building, hard to find, cash only and requires four napkins, but Jackson house burgers are worth the effort.”


Vid Lynch, TorchBearer Sauces:

“I feel there are a lot of good burger places around here – Nathan’s, Moe’s and McGrath’s to name a few. However, Ben and I both agree that Zembie’s has some of the best burgers around, not to mention food in general. Our favorite way to have a burger, bloody as they will allow with blue cheese and bacon and TorchBearer Sauces Honey BBQ on it — yuuum.”


image from Tierney Pomone, Fashion blogger:

“My favorite burger to date was found at Iron Hill in Lancaster. I like the Brewski Burger with sharp cheddar. Juicy and full of flavor! Plus, Iron Hill has great beer and is a fun place to hang out.”


image from

Mike “MoMo” Moran, MoMo’s BBQ Grill:

MoMo’s ‘Burger,’ of course. Next best: Jackson House.”


image from John Micek, Capitol Ideas blogger:

“The Pub Burger at Molly Brannigan’s. I’m a big fan of the sauteed onions on this oversize burger and the addition of a Guinness-based barbecue sauce really makes it for me. Still wishing they used the classic HP Sauce, but that may be the purist in me speaking.”

Note: If, like me, you’re not familiar with “HP” sauce, John tells me it’s, “a brown sauce (steak sauce) used in England. It’s more vinegar-y than A1, but it tastes wonderful.”


image from Dawson “Chief Chili” Flinchbaugh, Flinchy’s:

“My favorite burger – hands down – no competition – is the Jackson House with Swiss cheese and roasted red peppers, bag of Utz red bag plain potato chips and a fountain coke! Wow!  Stand in line and give your order to the ‘Burger Nazi’ who yells at you if you are not quick enough!  Fun fun yum yum.

“I believe they use at least an 80/20 mix of ground – probably Certified Angus Beef, cooked to medium at the most – a little on the med-rare side. Hot hot flat grill to sear in the juices. Flipped only once, toasted roll. You get it right off the grill too – so no heat loss or waiting!

“This is the same meat we use in our Flinchburgers and Harley Burgers and is why they are our biggest selling sandwiches.  Flavor flavor flavor! You lose most of that with lean 85/15/or 90/10 mix.”


Joe Calla, Capital Vending:

Jackson House has the best burgers in the city. It’s not just a lunch spot but a destination point for downtown lunch people. You have to be patient and wait for your burger but it’s worth it within the first bite.”


image from Alexis Dow Campbell, On the Go! columnist:

“I love the ‘Royale with Cheese’ at Juice and Java in Mechanicsburg … Cheeseburger on a pretzel roll with chipotle sauce served with these fabulous sweet onion chips. For vegetarians, they also have a delicious black bean burger. Add a Blue Banana smoothie and forget it. I’m goo.”


Mick Renhard, Daddy’s Sugar Ball/The Sports ‘Burger blogger:

“My selection for best burger in the area is going to be different than almost everyone else. You see I’m a vegetarian and haven’t had a ‘real’ burger in over 15 years. I’ve heard my friends rave about the meat patties at Garrason’s, Blue Heaven and Jackson House among others, but I can’t join in on the choruses singing their praises.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those fanatic vegetarians that only eat the healthiest of the healthy. I’m fat and love food so usually the worse for you the better. Deep fry it, add cheese to it, whatever makes it taste better. Because of that, I have to rank a ‘burger’ I recently had as the best one I’ve probably ever had in the area. The newly opened MoMo’s BBQ Grill downtown serves a smoked portabella sandwich that has me still thinking about it almost a week later. The mushroom is treated like a just another piece of meat as it is dry rubbed, grilled, and served with your choice of barbecue sauce – personally, I’m a fan of the mango habanero – and a mound of shredded cheddar cheese. If like me you also love the Primanti Bros. style of preparing food, do yourself a favor and upgrade to the french fries and add slaw to your order. You’ll thank me later. Healthy? No way. Delicious? Absolutely.”

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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